Monday, November 12, 2012

Check Up with Doc Brown

Day 1012

I had a check up with Doc Brown the other day. You remember him, right? He's my shrink.  Anyway, he adjusted my meds to get me back on track. How did I get off track? Well, for that story I have to go back to summer (when I should have been posting, but wasn't).

I see Doc Brown every three months or so and two visits ago, I was feeling pretty good. So good, in fact, that I asked if I could back my Zoloft down from 150 mgs to just 100 mgs. He said I could if I wanted to, so I gave it a try. Despite the fact that this summer was extremely difficult emotionally, I faired relatively well - until fall came.

From the first cloudy cold snap I began to struggle. The anxiety seemed to ramp up daily, I couldn't focus at all without the Concerta, and depression was creeping in. Productivity was a daily obstacle. I floated from bits of this project to bits of that one - never actually completing anything (and when you work in marketing - an industry fueled by timing and deadlines - that's really bad). I could feel a complete freak out looming and I knew I had to head it off.

God bless Doc Brown! When I shared these things with him, he assured me that getting back on track was easily done. He increased my Zoloft back to 150 mgs and we discussed other options such as light therapy. I also informed him of some relaxation audio that I've been using lately and he agreed that this was a good idea.

I also told him of a special mission that I am undertaking in the spring. I have been inspired by my best friend, Tim, who recently completed his first triathlon as a gift to himself for his fortieth birthday. I turn 40 next July, so I've decided to hike a section of the Appalachian Trail to celebrate. Fortunately, Tim has agreed to hike it with me. Doc Brown believes that this will be very beneficial for me and I think he's right.

I will keep you informed on the progress of my AT (that's big boy hiker talk for Appalachian Trail) training and planning. For now, I have been on the increased dosage for two days. No real change yet, but it's supposed to take a week or so to build back up.

I think it's important to mention that I don't feel defeated or set back in any way because of this. My decision to reduce my dosage was not an attempt to eliminate the medication. I used to think that if I could get off the meds, I would be well. I don't measure wellness like that anymore. The meds are there to help me and they need to be what they need to be. I measure wellness by the quality of the life I live from day to day and the quality of the life that I contribute to those around me. The meds are simply tools that I use to make wellness happen.

What experiences have you had with adjusting your meds? Leave a comment below and share.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Birds on a Wire

Day 1007

This is a fun poem I wrote today while taking a "Brain Break" from my work.

Birds on a Wire

A dark thrumming thread from pole to pole
The congregation calls the roll

Dotted lines, hammered tacks
Measuring marks, railroad tracks

Come to order feathered kin
Discuss new business, two cents in

Make decisions, have your say
Meeting adjourned, now on your way

An empty thread against the sky
A board room for winged passers-by

Issues of conscience and consequence weighed
In an aviary congress this November day

What matters of state, religion, and law
Are voiced as the Brethren sound forth their "caw"?

The context of such are known only to God
It's not for the rest of us down on the sod

So the poles just stand, and the thread keeps on thrumming
'Til tomorrow when another such gathering is coming

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My Secret Weapon For Bad Days

Day 978

You know the cliche response we give when people ask us how we're doing?  The one where we say, "Oh, you know.  Good days and bad days."  Has anyone else noticed the painful irony in this statement?  Everyone has good days and bad days.  It's called "life" and just because we take medication, talk about our issues with professionals, and breathe deeper than most people, doesn't mean we're exempt.  We will always have good days and bad days.

Yesterday was a prime example.  I can't really point to one specific thing, it was just a bad day.  I was anxious all morning so I walked to a nearby deli to clear my head and get lunch.  The more I walked, the more I struggled to hold out against the rituals pressing in on me.  It started out with alternating footsteps, then even numbers.  The next thing I know I was counting parking spaces and keeping track of the cars driving by by make, model, approximate year, and color.

Now, I've been at this "fighting crazy" stuff for over a year.  One would think that I wouldn't have to work so hard, but some days are like that - still.  And I have a feeling that some days always will be.  If "normal" people have good days and bad days, I don't see how I'm going to avoid it.

The good news is that I've found a secret weapon along the way.  It's giving.  That's right, giving.  I have found that focusing on giving to someone else when I'm having a bad day makes a huge difference.  Sometimes I bring donuts to work for my friends.  Sometimes I go out of my way to listen to the troubles of someone I love.  Sometimes I just look for opportunities to hug people.  The point is that giving get me out of my head and makes me useful to others.  Soon, I forget about my issues for a while because I'm concentrating on someone else's.

The next time you find yourself at the mercy of the madness, try giving.  It really works.  It also make people glad to have you around, and you can't go wrong there.

What do you do to get through the "bad days?"  Leave a comment and let me know.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"Um...Hi."

Still Day 958

OK, so I suppose you're wondering where I've been for almost a year.  I don't blame you.  I could have written or called and I probably should have.  But I was really trying to see if I could do it.  I mean, we're supposed to get better right?  And in our situation, better means living more like everyone else.  Well, I don't know very many everyone elses who write about being crazy (sorry, Coach) on a regular basis.

I mean, I knew that I wasn't going to be able to tie a bow around this thing and pack it away.  that was evident when I still found myself counting everything in even numbers, chewing equally on both sides of my mouth, alternating my footsteps across horizontal planes when I walk, and many of my other parlor tricks.  More than a year of therapy and medication and I'm still my own little side show.

It was OK, though, because I was able to keep the festivities in my head again.  You know, kind of like my own entertainment.  I was surviving too, until summer.  Yes, now we arrive at the purpose of our fated reunion.  There will be much written about this summer in the weeks to come, but for now, I'll give you the list.  Even better - bullet points.

  • I started a business (in addition to the other business I already owned - looking for an auxiliary income stream to augment a lack of profitability)
  • I performed a funeral for a friend
  • I redesigned the entire marketing program of my main business still trying to discover some illusive profitability
  • I performed a funeral for the mother of one of my oldest friends (she died senselessly and suddenly of cancer and it felt like burying my own mother)  This brought me face to face with countless people from my childhood and adolescence.
  • I started another business (with a dear friend who needs to be free of a job that's killing him and take charge of his future)
  • I performed a funeral for one of my closest friends from college (who hung himself in a closet)  This brought me face to face with countless people from college.
  • I turned 39
  • I took my wife and kids to Disney World (no small feat for a crazy guy - I encountered 2 planes, a dozen restaurants, four crowded theme parks, monorails, trains, buses, a safari truck, and half of the nation of Brazil)
  • I performed a funeral for my Great-Aunt (who died of natural causes at 90)  This brought me face to face with countless extended relatives.
  • I redesigned the entire marketing program for the first business I started still looking for auxiliary income for the main business that was still struggling.
  • I performed a funeral for the Grandmother of the same friend who lost his mother 2 months ago.  This brought me face to face with extended members of his family for whom I had no answers regarding their feelings of injustice and grief.
  • I redesigned the entire marketing program for my main business in yet another effort to reach profitability.
  • I just found out that someone close to me has cancer.
So there it is, World.  As you can see, we have much to discuss.  I don't really know what to call this next adventure.  Or what to call the last 11 months.  One thing I do want you to know, though, is that it wasn't anything you did.  It wasn't you, it was me.  I guess I just needed some space, you know, to find myself.  Or maybe I just realized that it isn't so bad to need you after all.  Stop me if I had you at "Hello"...

Homecoming

Day 958

The rain runs cold off my worn leather cap as I turn the key over in my hand.  It's been so long.  Will anyone even remember me?  Do I care?  Well, I must, because here I am standing in the rain like a fool looking at a locked door and trying to convince myself it's better out here.

It's been almost a year since I left.  What do I say?  Where so I start?  So much has happened.

What if I don't have answers for all the questions?  What if there are no questions?  What if no one noticed I was gone?  That would be good, right?  That would mean that I was inconsequential from the beginning.  And if I was inconsequential from the beginning, I was never important enough to have hurt anyone.  I can handle the embarrassment, the puzzled expressions, the shame.  As long as nobody got hurt.

Still, I highly doubt that it's appropriate to heave the door open and shout, "Honey, I'm home!"  This is home isn't it?  Of course it is.  After all, I built this place.  I invited these people.  It's my key and my door.  What was I thinking?  After living here all these years, how could I possibly have believed that I could simply lock it up and walk away?

Well, there's nothing for it, Mr. Frodo.  It's time to face the music.  I'll just be honest and say what I'm thinking.  That's what worked last time.  Oh, look at that.  The key still fits...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

OCD Makes Conflict Extra Difficult

Day 606

If you've been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you know that I often process heavy things with poetry. I apologize if this one melts your brain, but I promised to share the struggles along with the success. Here you go.

Tension, like dense fog frozen, envelopes the eviscerated carcasses of half-truths hung
Chilling the marrow of well meaning warm bloods, it hardens the hell-bent belligerent tongue

Political poison slowly subdues him, maniacal maneuvers breathe whispers of woe
Beware the plots of polyester pirates that grin with their good eye for things you don't know

Seduced by the secrets that romance rebellion he tears at the frayed edge of friendship forlorn
Irrational fear of betrayal awakens his battle-worn bloodlust for power reborn

No apology appeases his red-faced raging no concession consoles his torment within
In the end he denies me the right of redemption resigning to only repeat it again

I gather the shards of my shattered conviction and piece them together as best I recall
Forged in the fire of pure self-reliance I gather up stones and rebuild my wall

Amazed, I consider the numerous occasions upon which I've risen from rubble and dust
Pain is the process that produces a metal resistant to rot, erosion, and rust

Fractures and fragments lie strewn out behind me the flotsam of faltering footsteps in sand
The pieces I'm missing are now gone forever, the future I'm facing unfolds in my hand

Gone are the innocent days of denial, the challenger beckons me into the street
Facing each other with trigger hands twitching this may be the final occasion we meet

He glares with his drawing hand poised and positioned, promising to mete out my judgement today
But I'm tired of fighting for what doesn't matter so I simply refuse him and just walk away

On a desolate street he festers and curses wondering why he's again all alone
With eyes that look inward he'll never see clearly, the only betrayal of him was his own

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod